"We are not going to let the voices of poor people in this country be drowned."
Participants share stories of alleged abuse
Police brutality, racism and the death penalty are only a few of the reasons that brought nearly 30 people to a protest rally in the King Memorial Commons Wednesday. The rally began with a group of 14 people chanting "no justice, no peace, no racist police," and eventually 15 more individuals gathered to protest. As they marched in a circle the protesters held signs that read "free Mumia Abu-Jamal" and "don't let him die without a fair trial."
Stanley Archacki, president of the Marxist-Humanist Forum, has followed the issue of police brutality ever since the beating of Rodney King in 1992. Archacki said he recently was outraged at the murder of Amadou Diallo, who he said was shot 41 times by four ununiformed police offercers because he threw down his wallet under the impression that he was being robbed. Archacki said when police strength is stepped up to shoot rubber bullets at peaceful protesters, they are sending the message that free speech, if it threatens corporate power, will not be tolerated. "We can only hope that this doesn't happen this weekend," he said, in regard to the upcoming protest in Washington against the World Bank ind International Monetary Fund.
Christine Orland, from voices of Illinois Poor People, said 75 percent of the people executed are poor and non-white. DeKalb resident Joe Campbell said as a homeless person, he was chased by police on his bike for exercising his right to free speech. Campbell said he was held in jail for 42 days and released with no trial. Orland said this incident is an example of how real police brutality is in DeKalb. "We Are not going to let the voices of poor people in this country be drowned," Orland said.
No police officers were present at the rally or available for comment.
C.J. Grimes, of the Northern Coalition for Peace and Justice, said these issues touch all our lives, especially college students.
Cecile Meyer, coordinator of the DeKabl Interfaith Network, said she was concerned about what is happening in DeKalb and in our country. "Police brutality starts with racial profilling that is alive and well in the U.S.," Meyer said.
Sociology professor Kevin Anderson said Mumia Abu-Jamal has become a symbol of the death penalty. "Mumia is a voice of so many other voiceless prisoners and people on death row," Anderson said.
The group of protestors also shared a concern that the MLK commons was not being used for its intended purpose because their rally was difficult to hear over the music being played on the other side of the commons. "I thought the other group was being disrespectfull of us," Archacki said. The music that was being played was a part of Spring Fest, sponsored by the Campus Activities Board. "We had reserved the commons from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., so it was ours to do whatever we wanted with," said Lisa Skaggs, CAB Spring Fest coordinator.
Michael Ford, a library technical assistant at the Founders Memorial Library, watched the protesters from the side. "I know about [some of the issues], but I wanted to find out more," Ford said.
Ken Quigley, and independant volunteer Christian missionary, joined the rally because he felt it was a good cause. "There are too many reports I've been hearing about where police have over-exercised their power on prisoners," Quigley said. "There is a need for tighter control over the use of police force."